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Planning, Development & Building ConstructionDesign Review

What does Design Review mean?

Design Review refers to the protection of the aesthetic and visual character of the Island for all properties that lie within the Corridor Overlay District (which includes property along the major roads and waterfront). Design review pertains to all alterations to a site or structure in terms of colors, materials, structural changes, landscaping, and signs.

The Town has adopted a Design Guidepdf icon that is used by staff and the Design Review Board (DRB) to ensure that all development projects are approved to the Hilton Head Island character.

Who can apply?
Anyone proposing the changes can apply. Whoever is designated as the applicant for the project will be the point of contact for Town staff for all questions and correspondence.

Types of Design Review

Design Review Board applications are categorized as:

  • Alterations/Additions
  • Minor External Changes
  • Signs
  • New Development (Conceptual and Final)

Staff will review all minor external changes. These include minor building or site elements. See LMOexternal link icon Section 16-2-103.I.2.b.i for a full list.

Staff will review all signs 40 square feet or less through the sign permit process. Larger signs will be reviewed by the DRB.

When to apply?
Typically, a new development project has 2 DRB meetings: the first being for conceptual review and the second for final review. All other types of Design Review projects typically only need 1 DRB meeting, unless there are outstanding questions or requested modifications. All applications, other than those for minor external changes, must be submitted 14 calendar days prior to the DRB meeting. See the DRB schedule for meetings and application deadlines.

Design Review (New Development) Timeline and Process

Design Review (Alterations, Additions, Exterior Change, Signs) Timeline and Process Graphic
Note: Time is measured in calendar days

Design Review (Alterations, Additions, Signs)
Timeline and Process

Design Review (Alterations, Additions, Exterior Change, Signs) Timeline and Process Graphic
Note: Time is measured in calendar days

How to apply for Design Review Board Approval

Online: Go to our Building & Development Citizen Access Portal and follow the prompts; OR

Hard Copy: Complete and submit the Design Review Board Applicationpdf icon along with the required fees.

What to Submit?

The application requirements vary according to the proposed plans and specific type of DRB application. In general the following information is required:

  • Complete application form pdf icon
  • Required fees
  • Survey and/or site plans showing property lines, building locations, and proximity to water and trees
  • Narrative explaining the project
  • Color and material samples
  • Photographs of existing conditions
  • Cut sheets/photographs/plans showing proposed details
  • Floor plans and elevation drawings
  • Landscape plans
  • If there is a private architectural review board, the board’s written notice of action must be received by the Urban Designer no later than 7 days prior to the final review by the DRB.

Staff at Town Hall will assist with the following:

  • The Urban Designer will assist with the application and getting the applicant through this process, including determining the submittal requirements.
  • If additional permits are required, the Urban Designer will communicate with other Town staff for these approvals.

Review Criteria

The DRB reviews the application according to the Town's Design Guidepdf icon as well as any requirements in the LMO.

Action by the Design Review Board

  • After review of the application at the public meeting, the Design Review Board (DRB) will make a written finding and give its approval; approval with modifications or conditions; or disapproval of the request.
  • Once the DRB has made their decision, Town staff will notify the applicant.

If approved, or approval with modifications or conditions is granted, the applicant is authorized to submit additional permits that are applicable.


For questions regarding this procedure, please contact the Community Development Information Center email icon at 843-341-4757.